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Improvements for Willow Oaks in Greensboro

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Gasha Carter has lived on Everitt Street for the past six or seven years.

It’s a community she says she likes living in.

“They keep the area really nice and clean,” Carter said. “They make sure everybody is being responsible.”

She lives in Willow Oaks a mixed-income neighborhood with more than 100 homes that city planners want to add a lot more to.

Willow Oaks used to be Morningside Homes, a housing project which was demolished in 2001.

It was also the site of the 1979 Klan-Nazi shootings.

“Bigger yards for the houses, we’re trying to incorporate some green space,” said Russ Clegg, a planner with Greensboro’s planning department.

This week, the city’s redevelopment commission approved a plan to continue work in the area which started in 2001 but slowed down during the recession.

“There’s a lot of single-family home developments that were stopped in 2008 when the recession hit,” Clegg said.

So far, the plan includes adding more than 70 new homes, turning vacant lots in green spaces or athletic fields and widening streets to add more parking and bike lanes.

“Like most neighborhoods, there’s issues with traffic so we’re trying to work to eliminate those and improve the traffic flow and make it safer for pedestrians,” Clegg said.

The plans also include building a neighborhood center where there could be community gatherings and a farmer’s market.

“May be a small grocery store, convenience store, just something that this community really needs,” Carter said.

Residents say they have their own list of changes they’d like to see.

“I would like to see speed bumps because my children play out here,” Carter said.

“Some people come through very fast,” Aldonna Fountain said. “It’s unsafe for some people crossing the streets.”

The redevelopment plan will go before city council members for approval on Sept. 5.